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In real life, leaves are surprisingly translucent. Here's a cool effect that we added to make our plants have much more realistic lighting. Screenshots and technical explanation inside!

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I was pretty happy with how the Overgrowth trees look when lit from the front, as shown in this shot:

Mountain trees

But what about when lit from the back?

Direct lighting

This didn't look quite right to me because leaves are translucent; and here we should be seeing light coming through the leaves. I went out to a park to take some reference pictures of real leaf translucency:

Reference photo

So what dermines how much light we see filtering through the back of a leaf? One factor is how close the leaf is to the image of the sun. Another factor is the angle between the leaf and the sun. The final factor is the translucency of each part of the leaf. Here is a picture showing these three components:

Translucency breakdown

When they are all combined, we get a correctly lit tree!

Final result

What do you think of our leaf translucency? Are there any ways that we could improve it?(permalink)


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NullSoldier
NullSoldier

Thanks god. Fullbright or uniformly lit trees in games are starting to annoy me.

It looks so good.

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Midnitte
Midnitte

Aye, you guys are doing some pretty amazing stuff!

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Noremakk
Noremakk

Agreed.

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sauerfreak
sauerfreak

Whoa, that's some awesome foliage lighting. I like how you guys keep posting these articles about how you do all of these cool effects. Kudos, and keepitup! :]

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FlySpyGuy
FlySpyGuy

AWESOME SAUCE!!!

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Woolybear777
Woolybear777

I've died and gone to heaven.

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Squeebo
Squeebo

Awesome looking tree! =D That's a weird thing to say. I see so many trees... But that one is awesome.

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Brightgalrs
Brightgalrs

Awesome! But, show us some leaves! All I see are pine trees.

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willy-wilson
willy-wilson

what your doing here is great and i say keep up the good work a thought though is why stop with the trees... this could be used for ears cloth and many other things i would experiment even more and see what else you can use this for

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nineteen
nineteen

It's the little things that make the biggest impact, especially to immersion geeks like me :)

Thanks for the insight, hope to see more of your work soon!

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vfn4i83
vfn4i83

Great work.

Are we going to see the same transluncent in grass, also?

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mothmann
mothmann

translucent grass ftw. Also I love theses updates about how your improving your tech.

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Myloman
Myloman

Looks stunning. Really enjoying the attention to detail and lighting techniques. Each update keeps making this game all the more sweeter.

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moci
moci

Besides the concept art there is not much "game" to it at the moment.
People don't realize that they are working on the engine now.

A great looking engine, but still just the engine.

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formerlyknownasMrCP
formerlyknownasMrCP

man that is epic.

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V-H2O
V-H2O

Nice...

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Packer
Packer

Reminds me of Leafs.

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PierreOfTheFrench
PierreOfTheFrench

I think basically anything you guys do just exceeds expectations over and over. Keep the news coming, it's always a treat to see how you guys think and work. Great job with the translucency, I can't wait for release :)

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PringleX
PringleX

Makes me think of SpeedTree, and how pretty much all developers now being too lazy to make their own tree assetes using it. Glad you guys aren't like that! Oh, and your trees look fantastic!

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dill1233
dill1233

Completely magnificent! You guys come up with the best techniques for rendering wonderful pieces of art. I won't be surprised if your game becomes one of the best, fully thought out indies we have seen in a long time!

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pfannkuchen_gesicht
pfannkuchen_gesicht

nice!
is this equal to SSS?

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jeffr Author
jeffr

Subsurface scattering? Sort of, this is a pretty simple model though. It doesn't take into account the light bouncing around inside of the leaf and reflecting back, which is the main thing about subsurface scattering, IIRC.

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death_fly
death_fly

Looks awesome! I though 'god, I have to buy this' then I realized I already have! YAY!

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vp21ct
vp21ct

I always was amazed by how Indie developers are the real people who push the envelope.

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